My strongest aversion to any Tarot card has always come pouring out in response to The Hierophant. See, I never connected to any of the various religious leaders I met while growing up, and I had zero interest in someone like that telling me what I should be doing with my life. Years later, I found that The Hierophant pushed all of those same buttons for me, and I had a lot of trouble seeing the positives in that particular card. Only after I saw him recast in several other decks as a much less Pope-like figure, and more as one who functions non-denominationally as a pure channel for a general spiritual worldview, could I start to get behind him. A Hierophant who simply seeks to serve humanity as a devout go-between linking the Divine with the mundane is something I can not only accept…I can even celebrate it. Hierophant-as-Shaman, as we see in this example, scrubs away all of my knee-jerk, anti-religion reactions, and allows me to finally embrace the card as the kind of fully-rounded set of meanings that I’ve always seen in most of the rest of the cards in the deck…
The shamanic mindset recognizes three worlds: the Lower, the Middle, and the Upper. This spread gives you some insight as to what messages you most need to receive from each one at this time.
1. Lower World – This World contains the forces of Nature: Animal Spirits, Plant Spirits, the Spirits of things like Winds, Rocks, Lakes and Rivers and Oceans, Mountains, and even the Earth itself. Ancestral Spirits also dwell in this world.
2. Middle World – This is the World we inhabit, but with a metaphysical overlay we don’t usually perceive in any conscious fashion. Shamanic practitioners travel this World to find lost items, to locate teachers, to better understand earthly systems, and to engage in remote viewing of distant places.
3. Upper World – This is the realm of the Celestial: the Higher Self, Deities, Guardian Angels, Ascended Masters, and even Alien Beings. The Upper World is all about Higher Consciousness.
So, what in the Worlds do you need to know right now…?
A quick post here to let the internet know that tomorrow, I embark on a journey into the Peruvian jungle. This trip certainly looks like it intends to put the “rain” in “rainforest,” as the accompanying weather forecast shows…
Having once spent at least a month or two in the Scouts as a child, though, I am vigorously prepared, and really looking forward to this adventure! My traveling companions and I will be encountering the unfamiliar flora and fauna of the jungle environment, and it will be my first time in South America, and also my first time heading below the Equator — new experiences abound!
I wanted to post here so as to explain what will likely be an absence from the ‘web that will last until the end of the first week of May. I don’t believe I’ll have much in the way of internet access between now and then, and so I won’t be able to post much (if at all) and won’t be able to accept any new requests for readings or Reiki sessions, until my return (although please feel free to lodge them in my inbox so I can discover them after I get back — I’ll be addressing the queue immediately after settling back in here!).
Meanwhile, I wish you all well, and I hope anyone who’s visited these pages has a terrific two weeks!!
I read Tarot often. By “often,” I mean probably just short of every day. There are occasional days when I do fail to bust out a deck, sure. Things happen, we get busy — you probably understand where I’m coming from. But for the most part…yeah, I read the cards often.
And this guy has been showing up a lot lately:
If you’ve yet to make his acquaintance, that’s The Emperor right there. And when I say he’s been showing up a lot, I mean way beyond what general statistical theory can account for. There are 78 cards in a standard Tarot deck, and while I do like to shuttle around among a dozen or so different decks, all of these, without exception, adhere to that 78-card thing. So you’d think that any card, Emperor or other, would show up about once out of every 78 draws, right? Or possibly a little bit more than that — the real world very rarely plays out exactly as statistical theory would have it play out — but sure, then what? Three out of every 78 draws? Five, max?
But over the course of the last month or so, I’d say that every time I’ve done a spread for myself of more than a card or two, which has been maybe a dozen times now…The Emperor has only failed to appear twice. This would translate to not one time out of every 78 draws, and not two, or three, or even five. This would be more like drawing a card 78 different times, and having it be the Emperor glaring out all authoritatively at you no less than 65 times!
Unlikely, right? And here’s another relevant factoid in all of this Emperor traffic: he’s only showing up for me, specifically, when I read for myself, and not when I pull cards for other people. Make of that what you will…
So, aside from the bizarrely high recurrence of this card in my drawings of late, why should this bother me? I actually tend to like weird happenings in my life, to be honest, so this would seem like something I’d be kind of into, right?
But see, the thing is…I don’t really care much for The Emperor. I mean, some specific renderings of him are okay. I actually do like that version of him up above from The Shaman Tarot. I like this Emperor, too:
But it’s not so much the usual imagery of The Emperor that I object to — it’s more the idea of him. Right from my initial wide-eyed entry into the wonderful world of Tarot, I found that there were a few cards that just didn’t sit well with me. The Emperor started out immediately as a contender for the uppermost slot in that dubious list, and he’s continued to occupy that same bleak territory to this day (although more on his small peer group there in one or two posts yet to come…).
So what is it about The Emperor that so puts me off? Why — if Tarot cards were people — would I be so hesitant to have him over to my place for dinner? He gets things done, right? He’s large and in charge. Maybe not a bad ally to have. Why wouldn’t I want to break bread with the guy?
In pondering this question — a question I was at first unable to answer very well, to my growing frustration — I decided that the cards that inspire that special sense of dislike and aversion in us probably have just as much to teach us as the ones that we instinctively love the most. I realized that The Emperor probably had a lot to show me about myself…probably things I suspected deep down, but didn’t want to face or deal with.
And this Emperor-stuff would be…?
Turns out, I don’t much like male authority figures. Okay, sure, I don’t care for all of the female ones, either, but there’s just something about dudes trying to tell me what to do that sets my teeth on edge. And it’s not like I’m this big rebel or anything, either — I’m actually a pretty mild-mannered person. But when guys take it upon themselves to start giving orders…I very much don’t like it. And giving orders is one of the things that The Emperor is all about! He’s the King of King-types, the archetype of the Monarch. He runs his Empire, instilling order where there was only chaos, giving his subjects security, giving them a rallying point. He provides a link to the past, a schematic for the present, and a pathway toward the future. The Emperor, in his own way, has as much force of will as, say, The Magician, even if he applies it in different ways and toward different ends, and he harnesses that will toward being the grand provider for his people.
And so I came to wonder if maybe I don’t care for him in part because I don’t see those kinds of traits in myself…? I don’t picture myself barking orders out to people from pre-dawn until post-dusk, making all the decisions, big and small, deciding people’s fates, creating law. I don’t know that these things are in me, but as a male in contemporary American society, I do feel pressure to nevertheless be an Emperor-type anyway. Modern-day America likes the take-charge kind of guy, respects and rewards him. And so what if I’m not really him? What am I? What can I be? Am I then of value in modern-day America…?
These are some of the hard questions and some of the soul-searching that The Emperor inspired in me (and which I’ve been examining again this past, rather Emperor-heavy month…). And I’m happy to say that I’ve largely come out the other side of them much more secure in the understanding that no, I’m not the embodiment of the Emperor archetype…but yes, I do still have plenty of value. And not being The Emperor is not the same as being spineless. That’s a very important lesson to learn, a critical distinction to draw. I once accepted being drawn into a street-fight so that I could protect the person I was with at the time, because failing to do so might have resulted in her being hurt…and I jumped into the fray even though there were only two of us and five of them. I may not be The Emperor, but there was some spine in evidence there that night, and there’s been plenty of spine in evidence since then, even if I’m not large and in charge, or a King of King-types, as my default state of being on a daily basis. I now have a better handle on how to view all of this…and I owe a lot of my more complete and mature sense of self to The Emperor!
I still don’t care for him all that much, though. And I probably would still hesitate to invite him over for dinner…or I’d at least go through most of the other Major Arcana cards first when drawing up my guest list…
As promised in yesterday’s post, I wanted to memorialize the most recent Panther-related dream that I was fortunate enough to be treated to — this one went down maybe a bit over a week ago now. I’ve written up a few of these already, including one that featured a winged Black Panther, and I’m still deeply gratified at each new recurrence of this particular dream imagery…
In this latest dream, I was arriving as one of a new small wave of visitors to some kind of casino — the kind where you not only gamble and gorge yourself at buffets, but you also book a room and spend a night or two in-house. I was aware that my fellow arrivals and I were each toting or dragging various pieces of luggage, and we were being received by a casino employee, who was giving us some kind of standard welcome shpiel. This mundane, canned intro speech suddenly seemed a bit other-than-standard, though, when the casino employee informed us that oh, yes, right, this particular floor of the casino that we were on was home to two very large Black Panthers and a Tiger, all of whom roamed the hallways pretty much free and at their pleasure at all times. And not to worry, the grinning employee continued — the Big Cats were all exceedingly friendly and well-behaved, probably even more so than most of the human guests (ha ha: nervous chuckles all around…).
Anyway, I was still digesting this odd bit of information, when one of those Black Panthers appeared from out of the milling crowds…and it almost immediately oriented on me, and ambled over, not hurriedly or with any active menace about it, but I had definitely been singled out as the object of its focus. I admit to feeling a bit of trepidation as the magnificent, but also gracefully fearsome and downright HUGE feline creature approached…
And then when this semi-enormous Cat reached me, it sort of gently butted me with its head such that I was impelled to seat myself in a large plush chair immediately beside me, and then as the casino employee geared up to resume with the welcome speech, the Panther sat down on the floor next to the chair, and very comfortably and with an air of great familiarity, took my left forearm into its mouth…and just held it there, in this very warm, sweet, companionable way. It was like the Cat was telling the Universe, “I choose this human. He has my protection. We’re now officially bonded.” It was kind of amazing.
Then, as the welcome tour continued, the Panther would release my arm so we could all walk along with the casino employee, but every time we paused, the Panther would again nudge me to sit down so it could resume holding my wrist or forearm carefully and lovingly in its mouth…
And after a few repetitions of this, I awoke, feeling kind of oddly blessed, and sort of like I imagine a Chosen One in a movie must feel.
I’m not sure why the casino backdrop. Certainly Siegried & Roy proved to us in tragic fashion that Big Cats and casinos don’t always blend well together, so a case could be made that the dream holds an element of warning. Then again, Roy was mauled by a White Tiger, not a Black Panther, and none of that incident had actually run through my conscious mind in ages at the juncture when I had the dream. More likely to me is the notion that the casino represents the world at large: vast, frenetic, clamorous, filled with hordes of distractions and possible dangers…but then the Black Panther seems to be a very clear indicator of a protective Spirit of sorts, asserting its presence, and its willingness to watch over me. Dreaming that dream was an overwhelmingly positive experience, that’s for sure…
And I also found in the past that whenever I would start to document my dreams here in this space, subsequent night-visions would start to grow more vivid and involved in the time that followed, and I began to remember more and more of their details. These are more good reasons to record them, and I encourage anyone reading this to try the same exercise. We spend nearly half our lives in the sleep state, so who’s to say that what happens to us there is any less “real” than what we experience in the waking world…? With all that in mind…what have you dreamed up for yourself lately…??
I’m a bit of a sucker for crystals and such. They don’t appear in my every conversation or anything, but I quietly carry one or two along in my pockets with me on most days, and I have probably more than a few scattered around the house. Metaphysical types will credit different types of stones with different characteristics, and while it can be fun to study up on these, it will also become quickly apparent that as with a lot of metaphysical subjects, the so-called (and self-designated…) “experts” often can’t find very much at all in the way of common ground. You’ll often find the same stone credited with such a wide array of sorcerous powers, that it will seem possibly easier to start listing out what it can’t do. So the best approach, then, when trying to suss out exactly what a given variety of crystal can or can’t accomplish for you…is gathering first-hand, empirical evidence.
So, something else I’ve written about in this space before that I also find myself charmed by in an ongoing sort of way, would be the animal kingdom. I have great admiration for the animals around me in the physical world, and in the more metaphysical context, I also like concepts such as Animal Guides, and I always pay very close attention to patterns of animal appearances around me, whether these be in my waking or my dreaming states.
With all of the above in mind…last week, I stumbled across a passage on the internet stating that a certain stone called Leopardskin Jasper is excellent for use in either discovering one’s Animal Guides, or, if they’re already known, firming up ties with them. This interested me: I have a small bowl full of Jasper, all of which I got quite a long while ago when I found heaps of it for sale at a local Occult shop at some irresistibly low, low prices. I filled my pockets at the time, trundled home all this Jasper-y goodness…and haven’t done much with it since. This online reference, though, decided for me that it was time to revisit my Jasper holdings…
Now, like such stones as Agate or Calcite, Jasper comes in a whole slew of specific varieties. You can’t just start holding forth about “Jasper,” and expect people to know exactly what you mean with any real specificity. There’s Red Jasper and Yellow Jasper…there’s Polychrome Jasper and Brecciated Jasper…there’s Picture Jasper and Picasso Jasper, and there’s Ocean Jasper and Rainforest Jasper…there’s Cobra Jasper (sometimes King Cobra Jasper), Zebra Jasper, Dalmatian Jasper…there are the intriguingly named Mookaite Jasper and Kambaba Jasper.
And then there’s Leopardskin Jasper:
So as it turned out, I had no less than three separate pieces of this rather shamanic-sounding stone in my little Jasper collection. I decided to give them a mild test-drive by sleeping with them under my pillow, which is often a thoroughly interesting way for me to see if I have any real connection with a given stone. In brief, here’s what happened:
Night #1: I dreamed at one point that I was outside in a green/wooded area, but still within what we like to think of as “civilization”…so I was under some kind of structure of sorts. Just ahead of me and a few feet up, at about the height of a standard basketball hoop, was a thick wooden cross-beam connecting one part of the structure to another. Two birds landed on it, but this was at the upper limits of my vision at that moment, so I couldn’t see them at first. Tilting my head up, I just barely caught one of the birds stepping along the beam so as to more or less vanish from my sight, the beam itself separating us. The other bird, though, was eminently, vividly visible: it was a large Raven, glowing with detail. I could see the slightly down-curving beak, the small tuft of minute feathers where that beak met the Raven’s face, the main body of feathers as glossy and black as ink fresh from the inkwell… As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the Raven is a special creature for me, and I wear its likeness in tattoo form on the underside of my wrist… Score one for the Leopardskin Jasper (and I should note here that I’ve never been the type to be able to successfully “program” myself to dream about anything in particular, so if you want to credit my subconscious or my dream-warrior self with me having this dream on this particular night, you’re free to do so, but I lean toward chalking it up to the Leopardskin Jasper, especially if you factor in…well, read on…)…
Night #2: I was traveling somewhere by ship, and in this dream, I chanced to gaze out through a convenient porthole. It was very misty outside, very wet, although not actively raining. As I looked out at the dark air, guess what happened to be flying by outside…? It was another Raven! This one was just cruising along, unbothered by the prodigious dampness of the air, aside from having to flap its wings a bit more than Ravens seem to like to do whenever I see them out in the physical world (like the large Hawks and Owls I’ve seen, Ravens prefer to glide whenever possible, models of efficiency who are much too cool to need to actually exert themselves to get where they need to go — the wind seems to want to do the work for them, for the most part). So I could probably write up an entire post on the symbolism inherent in the ship, the wet weather conditions, the mist, the active wing-beating of the Raven versus its usual glide…but I feel that the main point to be taken from the dream here is simply the fact that for the second night in a row with the Leopardskin Jasper under my pillow, I dreamed of what some might refer to as one of my “Power Animals.”
Night #3: On the final night of this bit of experimentation (I decided to give the Leopardskin Jasper a rest after three nights, regardless of results), I was again privileged to receive a visit from an animal I view as having great personal importance for me: this time, it was a very large Black Panther that came padding up to me from out of the dreamscape. I’ve lodged several posts in months past about how I first encountered a real Black Panther while scouting a site for a personal artistic video project I was working on, and how I then began receiving visits from the sleek and beautiful beasts — one even with great black wings! — in my dreams after that encounter. This one was no less impressive and gratifying! In it, I was standing about kind of idly, not doing much of anything, and in otherwise unremarkable surroundings, when an enormous Black Panther strolled up to me from out of the hazy middle-distance, clearly coming right toward me. It showed no apparent malice in the moment, but it seemed to be heading my way with pretty obvious purpose, like it felt we had some definite business to attend to together. As it reached me, I felt the barest twinge of apprehension, but then it turned and leaned its great shoulder into my thighs, causing me to replant my feet for balance, while it basically let me know that it simply wanted me to pet it. Happy to oblige, I laughed, and then bent forward to work at the task with both hands, doing my best to grant the stunning creature the greatest petting that any feline had ever received. It twitched its tail with pleasure and kept leaning into me, hundreds of pounds of streamlined muscle and potential ferocity bent toward the joyous objective of receiving some basic affection (and okay, no small amount of awe). And then I woke up from the dream…
And on Night #4, when I didn’t have the Leopardskin Jasper under my pillow…I didn’t dream of animals at all.
So what does this all mean? Does it mean that if you, too, sleep with Leopardskin Jasper under your pillow, you, too, will dream dreams of your own Spirit Animals? Well…not necessarily. We’re all different, and what seems to work for me may not work for you, and vice versa — like I said, gathering first-hand, empirical evidence is the only way to determine these things for sure. But on the other hand, my own experiences here do nothing in my own mind to dispel the idea that Leopardskin Jasper may indeed have some shamanic/animal-related metaphysical properties beyond what simple chance might account for. If nothing else, you should be able to find a piece of this particular variety of stone pretty easily and for a pretty affordable price, and you can then experiment a bit yourself…and if animals do pop out of the dreamscape for you, too, I’d love to hear about it!
Ever since I moved to the Silver Lake area in Los Angeles late last summer, I’ve enjoyed watching the various representatives of the local wildlife go on about their respective bits of business. I greatly miss the large Raven population in my former West Hollywood ‘hood, but there have been some compensating positive additions here in Silver Lake to help soothe that sense of loss, including occasional sightings of Hawks, Skunks, and Raccoons, and the ever-present possibility of spotting a wandering Coyote. All of this pleases me probably more than I can get across in a simple column here…
Sadly, though, after I returned home from my trip to Joshua Tree National Park about a month ago, it was like all the nearby wildlife went off on vacation, en masse. I got busy, admittedly, what with the big holidays, a few separate bouts with different illnesses, I went out of town again, and then I received visitors here…but even when I did stop to look about for some friendly fauna, I didn’t seem to see so much as a single bird paddling its way across the sky at sunset. I’d had a fantastic trip to Joshua Tree, but I began to worry that maybe I’d somehow overstimulated and burned out my connection to the forces of nature while there, if such a thing is even possible…
Yesterday, though, was like the day that all the local wildlife returned from that group vacation, punched back in, and settled back into place to get busy for the New Year.
First, the little neighborhood Cat. I have no idea if this little character is female or male, but I believe it might be feral, as it bears no collar, and is incredibly skittish. I’ve mentioned her/him in this space before, as the little feline likes using the stone runoff alleyway alongside the house here as a small thoroughfare of sorts to go up and down the steep hill on which this house is built. With that being the case, I’d often enjoyed these synchronous moments in which I’d be in the kitchen, and my little furry friend would appear just outside the window…and being all feral/skittish, she/he would freeze for a moment, all goggle-eyed at me, and would then bolt out of sight without leaving so much as an afterimage. However, I hadn’t seen the Cat in something like two months before yesterday, and I’d started to fear for her/his wellbeing. It was with great joy, though, that she/he finally made a welcome return just outside the window of my upstairs bathroom, prowling around rather loudly in the crisp foliage that blankets the hillside there. No more than maybe five or six feet separated us, but the Cat wasn’t aware of my presence due to all the crunching of dead leaves and branches it was generating. I watched for a while, impressed as always with the natural grace of the feline, and then we both went on our ways…
And then the second development…was more like a quick series of developments occurring right on top of each other. I went up the ladder to the rooftop at sunset, as I tend to do as often as possible, although to repeat what I was saying above, every such trip I’d managed to make during the last month had resulted in me mostly watching the clouds and the setting sun, as no wildlife was anywhere to be found (well…there were occasional insects — don’t want to shortchange them! — but not much of the larger creatures I tend to watch for). Last night, though, was different, and even more than a return to form!
It began with several waves of birds washing across the sky off to my right. As fall had changed to winter, this had been a more than common sight — in fact, I’d come to expect this nightly airborne commute. In recent weeks, though…nothing. I’d assumed that all the local avian population had simply reached their winter homes for the year, and I’d have to wait until springtime set in so I could catch them on the move again. Last night, though, yielded up several distinct formations of them, all heading in the same direction. One grouping was so large I couldn’t even count them all, although it definitely exceeded the two dozen mark.
After the last wing-beating straggler disappeared beyond the trees that loom over my house…a pair of Hummingbirds zoomed by to my left. They were moving at high speed, and their wings were just arcs of blur on either side of their small bodies. Hummingbirds always cheer me, and seeing what I presumed was a mated pair zooming along together had plenty of that effect (and especially after the return of the Cat and a showing of birds after long absences…). But the evening wasn’t done yet…
The grand finale came in the form of one more return…that of the Owl!
As I’ve discussed here before, I’d been thrilled on three separate occasions in the late summer/early fall to spy what I took to be the same Owl leaving the trees behind the houses here, and setting off like a ghost across the little valley that separates us from the corresponding hillside across the way. I’d never had such a personal glimpse of a nighttime hunter like that before, and had actually felt a little awestruck by it, and a lot privileged to bear witness. I’d then been kind of depressed that no further repetitions had followed, and as the weeks of no sightings turned into months, I’d all but given up hope, and had resigned myself to just being grateful to have enjoyed the few sightings that had occurred for me… But then last night, not long after the Hummingbirds had disappeared over my left shoulder, I caught sight of this rather majestic shape gliding across the blazing magenta sunset… This time, the Owl was heading in the opposite direction from what I’d seen last season, and was a bit farther away, but I had enough light to know what I was seeing, and that elegant, effortless glide was again on stunning display. It was a real thrill for me, and I felt like “Wildlife” or “Nature” as a whole was welcoming me back as its audience.
I’ve maintained in multiple posts here that I believe the Universe talks to us — to all of us. The thing is that this communication happens in different ways, depending on who each of us is. The Universe will use different symbols, different language, different patterns for communicating with me than it will use with you — the trick is to come to understand which of the many possible methods and sets of symbols it is using with you. I’ve come to believe that with me, one of the delivery systems it uses to send messages to me, personally…is through Animals. I’d been kind of dismayed at their absence since I got back from Joshua Tree, unsettled by the silence…and I was kind of overjoyed that the discussion seemed to have resumed yesterday. I’ll be watching and listening avidly now…and meanwhile, I also suggest that anyone reading this might give some thought to what their own channels of chatter with the Universe might be. It’s always a conversation well worth having!